I took my newly acquired Fuji GW690ii camera up for a day trip to Nuremberg and was luckily taken on a guided tour (breweries included) by my friend who is a local. Accompanying us were copious amounts of film and a sense of history and medieval encounters. Join me to explore this historical city.
I could say this trip was all about Nuremberg, but in actual fact it started with me wanting to try out my newly acquired Fuji GW690ii. I was lucky enough to be taken on a guided tour around the really cool city that is Nuremberg (‘Nürnberg’ for the locals). The weather was quite changeable so I took lots of different film types with me, primarily black and white (Ilford XP2 Plus (ISO 400), Ilford FP4 (ISO 125), Ilford HP5+ (ISO 400)) and 1 roll of slide film (Velvia 100) in case we were lucky with some bright blue skies.
All shots clickable for full screen viewing (trust me this time, you will want to expand those shots!)
A bit more about the camera
I will do a proper review of this camera in a future post, but the trip was really about me trying out my new acquisition. I have had my eye on this camera for a very long time and decided to go for it a few weeks ago, picking one up for a very decent price all the way from Japan.
What’s so special about this camera? If you saw one you’d realise it is unlikely any other camera you have ever seen, in fact it is so large it is borderline comical, looking like it came out of a fancy dress shop. But there is some method to my madness (and anyone who owns one will probably agree): it shoots 6x9cm negatives - medium format of course.
If that statement does not convince you, the shot below of the negatives that this camera produces will….
Negatives to die for. Look at the size compared to normal 35mm!
To say I warned you about the camera size…well, see below :-)
Yes this camera is totally as ridiculous as it looks! But with the image size and full manual working mode, it is totally worth it (you just can’t be very shy taking this thing around with you!).
It is actually extremely ergonomically and has a wonderful build. (Photo credit: Sebastian)
Some quick technical specs
This camera is known as the “Texas Leica”, supposedly because it looks quite like a Leica but is in fact about 5 times the size. It sports a fixed 90mm f3.5 EBC Fujinon lens, which produces outstandingly sharp images. I believe the focal length is about 40mm on a 35mm camera. Importantly it is a rangefinder, meaning it is built the same way as my Leica, where you look straight through the viewfinder (not through the lens as you would in an SLR camera). It is a completely different experience to my other medium format cameras I have owned, which have waist level finders.
It weighs a pretty staggering 1.5kg and for that reason I have not yet found an optimal walk around method (neck straps get tiring quickly and using a wrist strap makes your arm fall off or requires you to cradle it like a baby, both not exactly the stealthy photographer look).
Oh, and given it produces 6x9 negatives on 120 film you only get 8 shots per roll (compared to the 12 I get on my 6x6 Hasselblad camera). It is amazing how quickly you can burn through 8 shots - in my view this is great companion camera to keep for the super special shots alongside a smaller 35mm camera for the snapshots.
My 1st shot ever - out the window of the train enroute to Nuremberg from Munich. Actually this was at Ingolstadt, which being the home of Audi, always has train loads of cars at its main station.
Shot wide open at f3.5 to see how pleasing the out of focus areas are (‘bokeh’ in photography terms).
Our first port of call was the Nazi documentation centre, which is part of the Nazi Rally Grounds in Nuremberg. The city of Nuremberg was declared ‘city of the Nazi party rallies’ in 1933 and is where a series of monumental buildings were constructed in 1933. These reside on a massive eleven square kilometre site in the south-eastern part of the city. The structures (some incomplete) have been left in their original state, with no up-keep, supposedly as a stark reminder of days gone by.
I do believe black & white film was the right choice for this subject matter.
A view of the famous Congress Hall from the other side of the lake. I remember studying this in history class in school, and I could not quite believe I was visiting it in person. It is immense. It was planned to fit 50,000 people, although it was never fully finished. It is now a landmark protected site, also being the biggest preserved national socialist monumental building. Of course it is easy to see that its design was inspired by the Colosseum in Rome.
The inner courtyard of the Congress Hall.
I like the feel of this shot but unfortunately there is a bit of camera shake so the image is not as sharp as it should be. I didn’t bring a tripod with me so shot everything handheld.
A colour shot on Velvia 100. Slightly overexposed though.
There was a big running competition going on through the large grounds.
Look at the sharpness in this shot!
The grounds are used for a number of different activities, with a very large ‘spring carnival’ occurring on the main grounds next to the Congress Hall. Any excuse for some beers and a funfair in Bavaria (I mean Franconia….we wouldn’t want to insult any Franconians reading this…!).
Slightly washed out colours but I like the overall feel of this shot.
Probably my best shot of the day - the sharpness of this lens really blows me away. Shot on Ilford XP2 Plus.
Sebastian composing for a shot. I was lucky to get a tour guide and fellow photographer in one!
Part of the big Rally grounds are apparently used as a motor track. You can see the main stage towards the middle/right of the shot (with the big pole).
The centre piece of the rallies. I actually was caught by the really nice shadows so decided to compose that into the shot. What you cannot see here is the size of the area where thousands of people would be gathered for the rallies. It is a fascinating site for anyone interested in history.
Nürnberg’s Old town
Time to go check out Nuremberg’s old town, with its Frauenkirche and main market square and also the Imperial Castle. Actually one of the best times to come to Nuremberg is for the Christmas Markets, as they have one of the largest and best in Germany. There is also a medieval music festival sometime in August that I have been to before and sees every street corner with street music and people wearing Medieval clothes (and drinking beer of course).
One of the many Cathedrals/churches you will see in the city.
I was hoping to use a smaller F stop (F8 or above) that would have allowed for everything to be in focus, but it was not bright enough and my film was only ISO 125 (Ilford FP4) so I had to open the lens up more and as such decided to make the background in focus. Very clear still!
This shot would have been very nice in a bright summer’s day, but I still like how it came out. The city has loads of streets like this that are quintessentially German. I believe that is part of the Imperial Castle at the top of the shot.
One of my favourite shots of the trip - I love how busy this scene is. Surprisingly everyone is going about their business and ignoring the bazooka that is connected to my face.
Another crazy sharp shot too.
Shot on a 2 second exposure, and whilst it came out a bit over exposed the fact that it is slide film I am happy it came out at all. The image is so sharp you can clearly read the signage on the top right of the image.
Yes, having a waist level finder camera would have been more practical in this situation!
I took this shot as I loaded in the roll of Velvia 100 film when I saw the sun come out and a break in the clouds for some blue sky views!
That’s a wrap, folks!
I will save my proper review of the Fuji GW690ii for a future post, however I am delighted all the shots came out and the camera is in full working order. Given its condition and fully mechanical nature I was pretty sure it would all be fine!
As you can tell, I really enjoyed the day trip up to Nuremberg. It is easily accessible by train from Munich and well worth a day trip. For those interested in history, the Nazi Rally Grounds are really interesting and quite breathtaking when you think about what happened there.
It is good to see the grounds being used for big events (I forgot to mention the famous Rock im Park music festival is hosted there every summer - the Rock am Ring festival is hosted at the Nurburgring. Interestingly, both festivals are usually regarded as one event with a mostly identical lineup for both festivals - occurring over 3 days).
The medieval part of Nuremberg also has lots to offer, I highly recommend a visit. I will definitely go back again with brighter weather, although I may just leave this camera at home and walk around looking like a normal person for once.
Overall, considering the very changeable weather I was pleased with the shots I got back. Of course I could not believe my eyes at first when I saw the negative size and I definitely must shoot more slide film as the negative looks really fantastic on a light table.
Thanks for stopping by and for joining for a brief history tour!